IN the future, said Andy Warhol back in 1968, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes. Well, that quarter-hour of fame has always managed to elude this child of the Sixties. Until now!
An acquaintance told us that his film-maker friend’s latest movie had a star and a cast of characters but one big problem: they didn’t yet have a location, a house suitable in which to film their upcoming ‘black comedy’.
It only took a moment. “He can use our house!” my husband and I shrieked in unison. And the deed was done.
Several meetings and innumerable phone calls and emails later, The Crew arrived. At 7am! So who needs beauty sleep?
Our children counselled that we were mad to allow such an invasion but we liked the idea of being famous. Or at least our house being famous. Or perhaps our house just being in a film. Anyway, it prompted us to do a bit of a tidy-up.
There’s nothing like the thought of thousands of people seeing close-ups of the corners of your home to encourage an in-depth clean. It’s a bit like expecting visitors: you look around, decide the whole place is shabby and rush to the nearest DIY shop to buy paint, a new rug and a few scatter cushions.
We really needn’t have bothered. On Day One the film crew rearranged the furniture, took down pictures, put up pictures and drank coffee. . .
. . .they turned the conservatory into the make up room, a bedroom into a dressing room and drank coffee. . .
. . .they re-arranged the furniture again, took up the hall rug, put it down again, dressed the actors – and drank coffee!
Some of the extras failed to arrive. While the crew drank more coffee, we were pressed into service for walk-on parts after rummaging through wardrobes for suitable clothes. Phew! Then WE drank coffee.
Finally the director called for silence, the clapper board girl yelled “Scene one, take one” and we were in business. We had to be very quiet, no phone calls, no tv, no conversation (which some of us found very difficult!). And the ‘takes’ went on and on. And then the rain began. Once-clean floors became a quagmire, but we soldiered on.
Rather embarrassingly, when The Star arrived some of us didn’t recognise him until introductions were made and we remembered the advert in which he’d appeared. Or rather, we recognised his dog. (It’s a well-known fact that actors shouldn’t work with children or animals but we were pleased to receive a thank-you card after filming was finished . . . signed by the dog!)
Anyway, The Star joined in the coffee drinking and we ploughed on through to “Scene 27, take one”. Not hard, really: as extras, all we had to do was pretend to be speaking, to smile/look sad/etcetera at the right moments. No lines to learn, fortunately.
We broke for lunch. The producer sent out for food and all the worktops in the kitchen were covered with sandwiches, crisps and various goodies for the ravenous crew, all 30 of them. We were hungry, too, but couldn’t dig in: tradition has it that the crew all eat together when the producer says the morning’s work is over.
After lunch we crept around like mice, clearing up the wreckage from the feast. Then it was back to work, with equipment all over the house, cameras on dollies, lights on stands, stuff on the drive and cars all over the street.
The neighbours came out to watch, wondering what on earth was going on in our quiet cul-de-sac.
Day Two meant ANOTHER 7am start! Fortunately, no rain for the exterior shots but a shower of excited children poured down the street to see what was going on with all of the ‘pretend’ taxis arriving and departing, disgorging ‘pretend’ passengers and taking others away. And more coffee, always, more coffee!
The Big Boss arrived from London, anxious to see how filming was progressing. He was impressed and did some filming of his own, using a small hand held camera. Coffee cup in the other hand, of course.
Eventually, the director called “It’s a wrap!”, the crew cheered and clapped and then dismantled the props, the cameras, and the lights. And you’ll be pleased to know the house is (just about!) back as it was. Would we do it again? In a moment!
The filming wasn’t in sequence so it was difficult to follow the plot but all will be revealed when we go to the London premiere . I’m planning a posh frock for the Red Carpet Walk.
And I have no doubt they will be serving coffee!